Wine Tasting – By Farr WinesTweet Follow @MyAchingHead
Recently I attended a wine masterclass with Nick Farr of By Farr and Farr Rising (hosted by Randalls Cellar.) This is the sort of event that I, as someone with more than a passing interest in wine, absolutely love. A chance to talk to winemakers about how they make the wine, what they intend for it and where it will go in the future. I hate it when you go to a cellar door and you are told what is written on the tasting notes of the wine and not about what was involved in making it. Thankfully the focus of these sessions is very rarely about the wine itself and more so about the wine as a journey.
Nick was going to be a sports teacher until his father Gary sent him to an industry wine tasting before he started university. He cites the unlimited supply of oysters, beer and wine as what turned him onto the track of winemaker. Gary was the perfect mentor for a young winemaker, sending him straight to the United States and Burgundy to be taught in what he considered to be the wineries of the best Pinot Noir producers in the world. You get the impression that after countless vintages around the world and his own label from the Geelong area, Gary has finally handed over some semblance of control to Nick. He has headed overseas for a holiday and has only called to have more money put in the account.
Nick’s passion for wine is captivating. He has a great grounding in the new and old worlds of winemaking and shares his knowledge of wine and his own vineyards with ease. So much of the focus on wine today is on terroir and this case is no different. The sites for the vineyards have been carefully selected for their soil, aspect and locations and it wouldn’t surprise me if Nick has walked every inch. The particular site that Nick was most excited about was their “Tout Pres” vineyard. This site has 3 types of soil and 3 different slopes each with different facings.
The By Farr winemaking style is particularly standoffish, with the least interaction from the winemaker. Pinot Noir grapes are fragile and overworking them will make the wine tired. Instead, the winemaking is done in the vineyard tending the vines. The hand picked grapes are whole bunched pressed, and very little is done after the wine is barrelled. The whole bunches add tannins (hopefully not too much herbaceousness) creating a wine with great structure and funkiness (sic).
This structure, perfume and funk is evident in the flavours of all of the wines. The Pinot Noirs are rich and complex with great tobacco flavours throughout. The “Tout Pres” is particularly interesting with the quartz in the soil bringing through a minerality rarely tasted in Pinot Noir. My choice however was the “Farrago” Chardonnay/Viognier. This white has exceptional mineral flavours and an oily but not overdone mouthfeel. Interestingly, the blend is 50/50 but the apricot flavours of the Viognier are surprisingly subdued.
This introduction to the By Farr winery has me really interested in Geelong Pinot Noir and anything that Nick Farr is involved with. The prices on this label ($50-$90 a bottle) are sadly well out of my price range and having this opportunity to taste them was amazing; given the chance I would love to buy a case or 2.
- All Saints Rutherglen – Wine Tasting
- Central Otago Wine Tasting – Chard Farm
- Suffield Wines – Eden Valley
- Banrock Station Wine